There are times when a case cannot be settled, but it also does not need to be tried in court. The Virginia Worker’s Compensation Commission (“VWC”) has a free mediation program. Judges from around the state will hear the injured worker, their counsel, defense counsel and the insurance company speak about the case. These experienced mediators will then attempt to help everyone reach a compromise settlement of the case. This saves a lot of time effort and money.
The Virginia Worker’s Compensation Commission does not charge anything for the service. Herndon injury and disability lawyer Doug Landau notes that when he shares the cost of a retired judge to mediate a car crash case or an airport accident, it often runs several thousands of dollars ! That money comes out of the clients’ eventual financial recovery. Landau adds,
“Another great thing about the mediation process is that it is confidential, such that if the case is not able to be settled, there is no public record. It enables my clients to meet face-to-face with the lawyers and insurers. The mediation process also enables my clients, family members and witnesses to speak frankly, to the judge, to the other side, as well as to me. While not every single case that goes through mediation get settled, the statistics are overwhelmingly positive. In most cases, my clients have little to lose by attempting to mediate their cases.”
The VWC program is completely voluntary. Both sides must agree to mediate. Both sides must also agree to the ultimate settlement terms or the case is not settled. One of the big benefits to mediation is mediation can resolve many issues that are not able to be ruled upon by the Virginia Comp Commission. These issues can include retirement and employment issues that are beyond the jurisdiction of the Virginia Worker’s Compensation. Mediation can also resolve issues regarding liens, related litigation, and repayment issues. All in all, Landau has found mediation, especially with the judges and staff of the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Commission to be an overwhelmingly positive experience.